Even though I'm in a rural area of Italy, we have stores. Even though gas costs $8 a gallon, I recently got my Italian driver's license. Even though these are the facts, I don't really shop that much.
Sure, we spend more than I'd like on groceries (local Sidis and Conad for the usuals, Panorama super-store when we want to browse around in a store with a larger selection of groceries and housewares and stationary and plants and electronics...). But other than food, I don't go shopping.
First of all, I'm not a shopper. I don't love going through store after store on a hunting expedition. I don't need the perfect pair of shoes to go with the clothes I wear around the house. Secondly, the weak dollar is killing us. Those 100 Euro shoes are $160. Expensive to start with, and just too much after converting the currency! Thirdly, parking is often inconvenient so I just don't bother to stop.
So, I make my list of what to buy while I'm in New York. I write it on the back page of our 2008 Diario so that it doesn't get lost and is always handy to add another thing. I spend little on extras all year while in Italy, but when I go to New York next week, I will buy: cooking ingredients (buttermilk powder and baking powder to make my favorite olive oil cake and buttermilk pancakes among other things, kirsch for my fruit sherbet recipes, Thanksgiving ingredients like cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin and evaporated milk), an indoor/outdoor thermometer with both F and C (so maybe I'll learn Celsius without even trying?) sunscreen, camp supplies for Dante, moisture-retaining beads for outside planters, spices and a good quantity of vanilla beans from Penzey's, tortillas, books, magazines, craft supplies, clothing for us all. The list goes on. While some of these things ARE available in Italy, I don't have the time nor energy to track down exactly WHERE to get them, or when I do I don't like the price/quality/currency conversion ratio. And of course when I try and close the suitcases, then weigh them, some things may get left behind to be retrieved on the next trip. (Hey Dad, don't you still have a big box of my stuff in your garage that I was supposed to bring back to Italy this trip when we'd be allowed six suitcases ? Gulp!)
I imagine myself like the American settlers who lived on the prairie, who once in a great while would head into town to do their shopping. A long period of frugality followed by a shopping spree. Now if only our six medium-size suitcases could hold all that a Conestoga wagon could!